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Natural Supplements as Treatment of Separation Anxiety

Many veterinarians would tell you that separation anxiety is one of the most common behavioral problems they encounter. Holistic vets may suggest natural supplements as the remedy.

Separation anxiety is seen in dogs of all breeds, but often in large, high-energy dogs that are confined to a small area and have little or no opportunity to burn off that energy. Regular exercise is a must for such dogs.

Smaller dogs can be susceptible to separation anxiety if they’re accustomed to near-constant companionship.

Treatment typically involves a combination of behavioral and medicinal therapy. However, holistic vets prefer the use of behavior-modifying herbs, supplements, and homeopathics, rather than medication.

Conventional medications that might help with separation anxiety include amitriptyline or alprazolam, among others. These require a prescription and are safe for most pets.

Natural supplements that help ease anxiety in dogs include the amino acid L-theanine, chamomile, passion flower, St. John’s wort, and valerian. These have various mechanisms of action but basically function to alter neurotransmitters in the brain (such as serotonin, GABA, or dopamine) to induce a sense of peace and calmness.

As with all behavior issues, the earlier the problem is diagnosed and treated, the sooner the behavior can be corrected.

The original version of this column, “The Natural Vet” by Shawn Messonnier, DVM, was published in AKC Family Dog.
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